Monday, December 12, 2011

Mirror 'EXCLUSIVE' is two years old

A report by Gary Anderson in the Mirror, dated 11 Dec 2011, is headed "Bankers cost each one of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce, study shows" it is marked EXCLUSIVE and the article starts "Rich bankers can today be exposed as a huge drain on society... ­costing the rest of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce."

The article goes on to claim that hospital cleaners create wealth because they prevent superbugs "saving the economy a fortune" and that tax accountants cost us £47 for every £1 they produce. The source for all this is a study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), but oddly enough Mr Anderson does not appear to even know the name of the study. Needless to say there is no link to it. One might think at this point that the alarm bells would start ringing, but no -dozens of people have tweeted and re-tweeted this story without checking any further. Most of them along the lines of 'Bankers cost each one of us £8.40 for every £1 they produce, study shows'.

Four or five minutes research reveals that far from remotely being anything remotely resembling an exclusive for Mr Anderson, the Guardian's Phillip Inman had already covered the story on 14 December 2009. Yes, that's right 2009. This is a very old story.

The 2009 NEF report is entitled A Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different professions

When any report comes to such an extraordinary conclusion it is always sensible to see what methodology is being used, and Appendix 2 on page 30 of the report tells us:

"Our model assumes that the financial crisis and recession would not have happened were it not for highly paid City bankers and traders engaging in extremely risky, opaque and complex transactions. We attributed the entire measurable loss to the UK’s economy and public finances to an elite few thousand very highly paid financiers – those earning over £1 million in bonuses. The model balances this value destroyed with the value created during a 20-year indicative career in terms of these financiers’ contribution to UK economic activity, taxes paid, and jobs supported."

So if you believe that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, the Bank of England, the European Commission and the Financial Services Authority are totally blameless and bear no responsibility for the recession then you might continue reading the report.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deptford Soil @ UTROPHIA

It is cold and windy so it is time for Deptford's hardiest perennials to move inside.

The McMillan Herb Garden and various good friends are taking a short stroll down the High Street to the comparative warmth of UTROPHIA to present "Deptford Soil". I cannot improve on what the Deptford Dame has said about creative processes, location etc, but I can promise a veritable cornucopia of aural and visual pleasures.

Artists include: Mick Bonfield, Carolyn Moon, Michael Tudor, Merlin Hayward, Richard Walker, Gordon Furn, Dave Aylward, Fred Aylward, Joy Bonfield Colombara, Dave Eyre, Diane Jones, Mark Moynihan, The Green Rebels and Sam Jack Russell.

Saturday 10th December 2011 is Home Grown Film Night.
7.00pm prompt brings us
Hide and seek (1972)
Deptford's 'Jack in the Green' (2006-2011)
followed by,
'Gone house ghost house 117 elegies' (2005)
A split screen with live sound track from Rabbit.

Sunday 11th December
5.00 - 7.00pm

Wednesday 14th December
6.00 - 9.00pm
Mid View
Music from The Missing Puddings and The Conformists
Compere Joe Bazouki

Saturday 24th December
12noon - 4.00pm
End of the Road


Monday, December 5, 2011

Trinity Square Gardens - New Threat

In an extraordinary farce on Monday 28 Nov 2011 Tower Hamlets's Strategic Development Committee (or rather two of its members) stuck two fingers up to UNESCO. Having been defeated in their attempt to use Trinity Square Gardens for corporate entertainment, Tower Hamlets are determined to grant planning permission for a grotty glass box that will dominate the space. This was despite councillors voting to reject the application on 27 October.

The ghastly apparition above is the proposed CitizenM hotel on top of Tower Hill Underground Station, the structure in the foreground in Trinity Square Gardens is the Merchant Seaman's Memorial on the walls of which are recorded the names of 24,000 merchant seaman who gave their lives in the second world war, but whose bodies were never recovered. The photmontage below shows how the hotel will look from the Tower of London.

All is not lost however, Tower Hamlets planners omitted to tell the councillors of draft Supplementary Planning Guidance entitled ‘London World Heritage Sites – Guidance on Settings' published by the Greater London Authority on 31st October 2011 - a fatal error. This means that the matter ought to go back to committee again, but only after the applicants have submitted new material required by the new planning policy document. You can make your views known to Tower Hamlets by emailing Simon.Ryan AT or writing to him at LBTH Planning Department, Mulberry Place (AH), PO Box 55739, 5 Clove Crescent, LONDON E14 2BE quoting reference Tower House, 38-40 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4DJ Ref No: PA/11/00163.

Local amenity society Trinity Square Group have asked the Secretary of State to call-in the planning application for a ministerial decision after a public inquiry so you should copy your objections to John.Pierce AT or or by post to him at the national Planning Casework Unit, DCLG, Eland House, Bressenden Place, LONDON SW1E 5DU

If you enlarge this image by clicking on it you may notice a small patch of green immediately to the left of the proposed box. That is the roof of the grade I listed Trinity House less than fifty feet across the road from the application site.

UNESCO inspectors are due to visit the Tower of London on Wednesday, having just visited Liverpool, where the Liverpool Daily Post reports

"The three-day Unesco inspection, led by Ron van Oers, had left the city with clear guidance “100%” that, unless Peel’s Liverpool Waters project was radically changed, they will recommend the city be stripped of the World Heritage accolade. The official inspectors’ report will be written by December 23 and will then be sent to Liverpool council and Peel within two to four weeks."

Anybody reading journalists such as Jonathan Glancey about Liverpool or Simon Jenkins about the Tower of London might easily assume that World Heritage Status is something imposed by UNESCO on unwilling cities. The reality, as is clearly set out on the DCMS website , is that localities around the country ask the UK government to nominate them to UNESCO.

Problems constantly arise because it is the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that deal with UNESCO, but it is the Department for Communities and Local Government who deal with Town Planning (DCLG). When towns and cities seek World Heritage Status DCMS persistantly fail to explain the town planning implications, and when UNESCO'S World Heritage Committee express concerns about the setting of World Heritage Sites DCMS fail to tell local authority planners. The situation is excarbated by the simple fact that DCMS officials do not understand town planning.

On 1 February 2011 DCMS official Peter Marsden wrote to Francesco Bandarin, the Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris. In the letter Mr Marsden claimed that "The Revised Supplementary Planning Guidance - London View Management Framework (LVMF) was published in July 2010..." & "The revised SPG strengthens protection for the Tower of London World Heritage property by:.. ..requiring planning authorities to consult with English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces and the Tower of London World Heritage Site Consultative Committee on applications affecting World Heritage Sites and their settings;" It is simply not true that the LVMF requires planning authorities to consult with the Tower of London World Heritage Site Consultative Committee (and given that Mr Marsden is a member of that
committee (see minutes of 5 May 2011 extremely difficult to understand how he made the mistake.)

The 35th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Paris, France on 19-29 June 2011 considered a report regarding the Tower of London World Heritage Site
pp229 - 233 (pp230 - 234 of the pdf)
which stated in the third paragraph of its conclusions:

"The Tower is not better protected than it was two years ago and meanwhile, as the State Party acknowledges, development projects with tall buildings that could have an impact on the property, continue to be approved whilst all the policy issues associated with the property and its setting have not yet fully been resolved or promulgated. The setting of the Tower has seen drastic changes in the last decade and appears not to have been ‘managed’ to respect the OUV of the Tower. Building work has impacted on the setting of the Tower on three sides and the resulting glass structures do not enhance the presence of the Tower or allow it to project its former role."

In the end the UNESCO committee did not add the Tower to the List of World Heritage in Danger, but their decision is still somewhat robust:

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.127 adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Acknowledges the completion of the "Tower of London Local Setting Study", however, expresses great concern that this study only addresses individual views and a very narrow local setting, while the overall setting of the Tower in relation to the Outstanding Universal Value has not been defined and provided with protection in line with Decision 33 COM 7B.127 adopted by the Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009);

4. Considers that the incremental developments around the Tower over the past five years have impacted adversely its visual integrity;

5. Requests the State Party to evaluate the impact of proposed changes to the visual setting of the property on its Outstanding Universal Value, and to develop and apply effective mechanisms for the protection of the setting as a matter of urgency;

6. Also requests the State Party to refrain from approving new construction projects in the vicinity of the property without assessing their potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

7. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property to discuss with national and local authorities the overall situation of the property with regard to the state of conservation of the site in its urban context and how current and proposed construction projects in its neighbourhood may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and how appropriate protection for its setting may be put in place for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the steps taken to implement all the decisions of the Committee, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.

However the DCMS officials who attended Paris did not tell local planning authorities of UNESCO's concerns when they met at City Hall on 2 August 2011 and they only found out through planning objections.

UPDATE: 3 April 2012
On 1 March 2012 the matter eventually went back before Tower Hamlets Strategic Development Committee. Despite officers trying to tell members that the draft Supplementary Planning Guidance should be given little weight and generally seeking to distract attention away from design matters the councillors, by 4 votes to nil, refused the application. On 9th of March the Supplementary Planning Guidance was formally adopted by the Mayor of London, and on 13 March the planners finally capitulated and published the formal letter refusing the application. The formal reasons for refusal are:

1. The proposal, in terms of its height, scale, bulk, design and elevational treatment represents an inappropriate form of development and fails to preserve or enhance the character, appearance and setting of the Tower of London World Heritage Site, the Tower Conservation Area and surrounding conservation areas, adjacent listed buildings and the adjacent Scheduled Ancient Monument. As such, the proposal fails to accord with Planning Policy Statement 5 (2010), policies 7.6, 7.7, 7.8, 7.9 and 7.10 of the London Plan (2011), policies SP10 and SP12 of the Core Strategy Development Plan Document (2010), saved policy DEV1 of the Unitary Development Plan (1998), policies DEV2, CON1, CON2 and CFR18 of the Interim Planning Guidance (2007), which seek to protect the character, appearance and setting of heritage assets. The proposal also fails to accord with the aims and objectives of Tower of London World Heritage Site Management Plan (Historic Royal Palaces, 2007)

2. The proposal will have a detrimental impact upon protected views as detailed within the London Plan London Views Management Framework Revised Supplementary Planning Guidance (July 2010) and would fail to maintain local or long distance views in accordance policies 7.11 and 7.12 of the London Plan (2011) and policy SP10 of the Core Strategy Development Plan Document (2010) which seek to ensure large scale buildings are appropriately located and of a high deign standard, whilst also seeking to protect and enhance regional and locally important views

3. The proposal will provide inadequate arrangements for site servicing and coach drop off which will result in unacceptable vehicular and pedestrian conflict within the immediate locality to the detriment of highway safety, contrary to policy 6.7 of the London Plan (2011), policy SP09 of the Core Strategy Local Development Framework (2010), saved policies T16 and T19 of the Council’s Unitary Development Plan (1998) and policy DEV17 of the Council’s Interim Planning Guidance (October 2007)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Meet the Met

Senior police officers are a rare sight nowadays in Deptford, but on 7 December we are led to believe the Commissioner himself (Mr Bernard Hogan-Howe) will be paying us a visit. I say led to believe because as Crosswhatfields? set out on 5 Feb 2011 Move along there - Police notebook - Betfred update plod do not always turn up when they say they will.

6.30 for 7.00pm till 8.00pm at Lewisham College, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT. Full details and how to book a ticket are on the Met website

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wandsworth Housing Policies

Earlier today the BBC reported that Wandsworth Council is considering introducing a policy under which Wandsworth council tenants could lose their homes if they lost their jobs.
Jobless 'may lose council homes', warns Wandsworth

On Wandsworth Council's hompage I find a link "Refusal to work could cost council home" which leads to a news release dated Saturday 12 November.

Near the start we have:
"This week councillors will be asked to back a new 'Housing into Work' strategy that aims to encourage new council tenants to find work or improve their job prospects through training or volunteering."

but oddly enough no mention of which committee or which day. (It is in fact the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday 15 November 2011 meeting in Room 123, Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street SW18 2PU.)

The release goes on to say inter alia:
"If the policy is adopted, people would be given a council home on the condition that they find work or enrol on a training course. If they fail to stick to their side of the bargain they would face the prospect of losing that home. The new rules will only apply to selected new tenancies - current tenants will not be affected."

Councillor Paul Ellis is quoted as saying:
"We want to help people move on in life. By providing low cost housing on the condition that someone takes up work our expectation is that this will act as a launch pad towards more housing choices to buy or rent elsewhere and to move on, freeing up social housing for people who really need it. Fixed term tenancies will ensure social housing is a starting point, not an end point."

Note the way in which fixed term tenancies are slipped in.

Turning to the committee report itself this is an alarmingly thin (six page) document entitled:
Report by the Director of Housing on proposals for a Housing into Work Strategy (pdf)

The report itself starts:
"The Council’s Housing into Work Strategy is set in the context of robust central government policy proposals in relation to making work pay and welfare reform. National policy, as set out by the Coalition Government in its Programme for Government and which is relevant to these proposals, includes a review of the welfare system, the provision of incentives to move into employment and a commitment to end child poverty with the policy aim of moving people into work and making work pay."

A hypertext link to the 'Programme for Government'(better known as the Coalition Agreement and the only background document cited) does not work. No surprise to cynics who have read the Coalition Agreement and know that it says nothing about fixed term tenancies or evicting tenants who lose their jobs. Over recent months there has been considerable comment and discussion of such proposals in journals such as Inside Housing, the housing law blog Nearly Legal and south London social landlord Family Mosaic has recently published research that it commissioned into fixed term tenancies 'Changing direction' and many other places beside, but Wandsworth officers choose not to share such information with councillors.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the document is the extraordinary claim that: "The Director of Finance comments that all costs incurred in relation to the implementation of these proposals will be met from existing Housing Department budgets." This is not a claim that any housing professional would make as there are simply far too many variables to consider. How many tenants will acted against for failing to get a job?. How many judges will actually grant possesion to the council? How many wives and children of evicted tenants will have to be housed as homeless after such evictions? What staff resources will be necessary to police the policies?

In the absense of either methods of calculation or estimates of cost I can only suspect that junior accountant, with no expertise in housing matters, has simply rubber stamped a matter (s)he perceives as too political to argue about.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Environmental Justice: The Thames Tunnel

The internet is currently buzzing with stories and comments regarding Thames Water's proposals for a sewage storage tunnel under the river Thames. The project was approved by government when Tony Blair was premier and is now approved by coalition. As I found out on Thursday at the Thames Estuary Partnership's Annual Forum the current minister Mr Richard Benyon MP is a firm supporter of the project. Unusually for a government minister he answered questions from the floor and it was clear that he was not just depending on a narrow civil servant's briefing, but that he had extensive personal knowledge of the subject. It is very clear that the project is going ahead.

On 4 November Thames Water announced the 2nd round of consultation on the project and on their website they make much of their "increased use of brownfield land" for the main tunnel drive sites. Thames justify this up by reference to inter alia "potentially serious health and safety risks to river users during the construction phase." The risks themselves are unspecified.

Here in Deptford the previously preferred bore site near Borthwick Wharf, where spoil could have left by river, has been replaced by a site in Deptford Church Street, where spoil will leave by road. According to Londonist a bore site at Barn Elms, Barnes has been replaced as the preferred option by a site at Carnwath Road, Wandsworth.

The picture is not entirely clear, but it is hard not to suspect that what has actually happened is that sites near middle class riverside developments have been replaced by sites in poorer areas. At this point I experience a feeling of déjà vu because some six years or so back I found myself helping to edit a petition opposing the Crossrail Bill. The organisation I was involved with did not oppose the line itself, but was fiercely opposed to what was then commonly known as the Hanbury Street Hole. This hole was a main shaft for removing the spoil from the tunneling for the railway line rather proposed in the heart of east London's Bengali community. In the face of many such petitions Crossrail eventually realised the error of their ways and dug their shaft elsewhere.

Environmental Justice
The term / concept of Environmental Justice originated in the United States in the 1980s in response to a realisation that polluting industries were disproportionally located in areas with large black populations.

In England there is a direct relationship between polluting industries and poverty clearly set out by Carolyn Stephens and others in a 2001 briefing paper for Friends of the Earth, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Economic & Social Research Council:
Environmental justice: Rights and means to a healthy environment for all (pdf)

More information about mapping such inequalities can be found in Muki Haklay & others' 2007 paper:
Bottom-up Environmental Justice in the UK: a fairer, greener London. (pdf)

At some point there will have to be a planning application of some sort for the Thames Tunnel and although nobody is entirely clear, in the light of government proposals regarding planning, who will be deciding the application it will require a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the decision maling body (or bodies). A proper EIA can only be conducted if Thames Water are required to submit, as part of their Environmental Statement, a fully verifiable report comparing the socio-economic data of original sites, preferred sites and other sites considered.

A public meeting with Thames Tunnel representatives will take place on Tuesday 15th November at 7.30pm in the Salvation Army Hall on Mary Ann Gardens, Deptford. See:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Urban Politics of Deptford Regeneration

In my inbox this morning I find a short article by Portuguese academic Daniel Azeredo Lobo on the politics of the regeneration process we in Deptord enjoy / suffer / put up with * in University College London's journal Opticon . (*Delete as applicable)

Opticon1826, Issue 11, Autumn 2011 (pdf)

Short summary of the article:

"Report for planners on the urban politics of Deptford regeneration" is presented as an urban politics case that, focusing on a key discourse politics, analyses an unjust process of spatialization of recent regeneration initiatives in the district of Deptford in the London Borough of Lewisham. This report intends to take forward the debate on the instrumental role of spatial planning in bringing civil society to the center of regeneration policies and practices, and by adding to the discussion on the dangers of previously-sought planning agendas by local and regional government for the creation of a unified vision of place identity, that allow an unequal allocation of intervention power which leads mainly to the reinforcement of partnerships with the market sector for the sole sake of inward investment.

Short biographyof the author:

Daniel Azeredo Lobo (1982), born in V. N. de Gaia (Portugal), concluded his diploma in Architecture and Urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture, Technical University of Lisbon (FAUTL) in 2006. Whilst studying he collaborated with two urbanism investigation groups at the FAUTL (Lisboa Multicidade and GESTU). In 2004 he won a scholarship to study at Faculty of Civil Architecture in Milan.
He worked at the architecture studios Herman Hertzberger Architectuurstudio (Amsterdam, 2006) and Foster and Partners (London, 2007-08), and has been working as a freelance architect-urbanist since 2008. Furthermore he has been collaborating since 2010 as a freelance researcher with an urbanism investigation group from FAUTL (GESTUAL), and developing his own research.
He was recently awarded an MSc in Urban Studies at the University College London where he developed a thesis on Urban Social Movements in Portugal.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lewisham Homes have failed again.

Yesterday on their twitter account they posted the above link to a story on their website.

Some other tweeters referred to it as a 'new' scam, and I responded that it sounded like a very old one. The truth is, as can been seen on the Crimestoppers website, the scam took place in 2005, but was closed down and the perpetrators fined. Emails that were circulated at the time warning people about the scam continue to circulate and some halfwit at Lewisham Homes received a copy yesterday. Instead of doing a simple google search, that would have revealed the truth, said halfwit posted the story as a current fact.

Today Lewisham Homes are bizarrely 'warning' people that the emails warning about the scam are a hoax. They are not a hoax, they are simply long out of date, but continue to circulate because stupid people forward such things without checking them (or even considering whether the person they received the email from is a credible source), but only the truly half-witted would dream of posting such a story on a corporate website without checking the facts.

The vast majority of emails warning about the Teddy Bear Virus, The Rapture, or the 9 year old boy dying of cancer (now 32 and long cured) who collects business cards are well documented on sites such as, Hoax-Slayer and Hoax Busters. No doubt every few weeks another envelope full of Lewisham Homes buisness cards goes in the skip at a Surrey sorting office.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Although the planning inspector has reached his decision by a somewhat circuitous route the end result is welcome news in Deptford.

Appeal Decision
Site visit made on 20 July 2011
by David Smith BA(Hons) DMS MRTPI an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Decision date: 16 August 2011

Appeal Ref: APP/C5690/A/11/2151228 93-95 Deptford High Street, London, SE8 4AZ
• The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant planning permission under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for the development of land without complying with conditions subject to which a previous planning permission was granted.
• The appeal is made by Done Brothers (Cash Betting) Ltd against the decision of the Council of the London Borough of Lewisham.
• The application Ref DE/156/93/TP, dated 17 January 2011, was refused by notice dated 30 March 2011.
• The application sought planning permission for use of the ground floor and basement as a building society branch premises without complying with a condition attached to planning permission Ref DE/156/93/TP, dated 16 September 1974.
• The condition in dispute is No (2) which states that: “The premises may be used only for a building society and for no other purposes (including any other purposes within Class II of the Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1972).”
• The reason given for the condition is: “In order to ensure that any other office use would be appropriate in this shopping frontage”.

1. The appeal is allowed in part and planning permission is granted for use of the
ground floor and basement for financial and professional services (Use Class A2) at 93-95 Deptford High Street, London, SE8 4AZ in accordance with the application Ref DE/156/93/TP, dated 17 January 2011, without compliance with condition (2) previously imposed on planning permission Ref DE/156/93/TP, dated 16 September 1974 and subject to the following conditions:
1) The premises shall be used for any purpose within Class A2 of the
Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (or in any provision equivalent to that Class in any statutory instrument revoking and re-enacting that Order with or without modification) other than as a betting office.
2) A shopfront window display shall be provided at all times.

Preliminary Matters
2. As set out above the proposal relates to non-compliance with a condition that
limits use of part of the appeal property to a building society. Permission is sought for any use within Class A2 of the Use Classes Order but the premises are intended to be occupied as a licensed betting office trading as BetFred. I shall therefore concentrate on the proposed end user. The application also refers to external alterations but planning permission for these works was subsequently given separately and the appeal does not concern them.

3. The last occupier of the unit was Halifax which, according to the appellant, has been a bank since 1997. There is also confirmation that occupation by the Leeds Building Society initially and then by Halifax took place for at least 23 years. It is therefore argued that Condition (2) has been breached for in excess of 10 years and that use for other purposes within Class A2 is therefore lawful having regard to section 171B of the Act. This is not a matter to be determined as part of this appeal. Moreover, in order to give it significant importance a definitive Lawful Development Certificate should be in place. As there is not only limited weight can be attached to this possibility.

Main Issues
4. The main issues are the effect of the proposal on the vitality and viability of
Deptford District Centre and whether it would give rise to anti-social behaviour, crime or disturbance to local residents and users of the town centre.

Vitality and viability
5. Policy CS6 of the recently adopted Core Strategy sets out the retail hierarchy across the Borough and the Council’s general expectations and intentions including the designation of primary areas within the District Town Centres. The appeal relates to a unit within the pedestrianised section of Deptford High Street which is within the Core Shopping Area of the District Centre. Here Policy STC4 of the Lewisham Unitary Development Plan seeks to strongly resist any changes of use involving the loss at ground floor level of Class A1 shops.

6. However, as the use of Nos 93-95 as a building society is already permitted
there would be no breach of Policy STC4. Moreover, over 70% of the units in the centre would remain in retail use if the condition was removed and the premises do not form part of a row of 3 non-retail uses together. According to criterion (a) these are both indicators of an over-concentration of non-retail uses to be taken into account when considering exceptions to the general thrust of the policy. On this basis, there would not be an undue proliferation of office uses generally.

7. The premises have not been vacant for long and the Council is critical of the
absence of marketing evidence to show that its preferred retail use should be discounted. However, this does not form part of any of the relevant policy tests and the reality is that a non-retail use was accepted in 1974. Therefore this does not form a reasonable basis for resisting the proposal.

8. There are 5 other betting offices within the Core Shopping Area and 2 more in
the High Street but outside the Core. This seems excessive to many but the proposal would result in less than 6% of the total of 108 units within the Core Area being in that use. In any event, the Use Classes Order does not limit the particular nature of uses within Class A2. ODPM Circular 03/2005 Changes of Use of Buildings and Land confirms that this class is designed to allow flexibility. Furthermore, there are no local policies that seek to distinguish between betting offices and other kinds of Class A2 use.

9. Some representations bemoan the loss of the former building society/bank use
and say that the proposal would lead to a less diverse mix of uses as a result. That may be so but as previously explained the planning system does not operate to regulate the number of any particular type of financial and professional service. Rather, as Circular 03/2005 puts it, there should generally be “free interchange” within a wide range of such uses.

10. The appellant maintains that a betting office could generate more custom than
a Class A1 use and refers to appeal decisions from Long Eaton, Paignton and Bridgwater. However, no direct evidence in this regard has been placed before me and therefore this point has little weight. It is also claimed that the proposal would increase diversity in line with Policy EC4.1 of Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth but that is patently not the case. Nevertheless, there is also nothing to indicate that other types of Class A2 use would be significantly different to the permitted building society in terms of customer attractiveness and contribution to the economic well-being of the District Centre.

11. The key divide in terms of development plan policy is between retail and non- retail uses. The proposal would not lead to the loss of a retail use and so would not conflict with the Unitary Development Plan or Core Strategy in that respect. Furthermore, by that yardstick there would be no harm to the vitality and viability of Deptford District Centre.

Anti-social behaviour, crime or disturbance
12. PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development refers to the creation of safe
communities as a key principle. Safe environments where crime and disorder or fear of crime does not undermine quality of life or community cohesion are also a key design objective. In a more general way criterion (d) of Policy STC4 of the Unitary Development Plan indicates that non-retail development within Core Areas should not harm the amenity of adjoining properties.

13. There is a strong body of evidence from local residents and shopkeepers that the existing betting offices in the Core Area give rise to anti-social behaviour, crime and disturbance. Representations refer to feelings of being intimidated and threatened by groups of people ‘hanging around’ outside other betting offices. There is a persistent thread of concerns about associated drinking, drug taking and begging as well as reports of verbal abuse, fighting and shouting. As far as many of those living and working locally are concerned there is a clear link between these happenings and the existing betting offices.

14. The appellant company regards the views of third parties as subjective and
prejudiced. It may be that some have other objections to betting offices which are not planning matters but this does not mean that their observations, based on experience of the area on a daily basis, should readily be put aside. It is true the information provided is anecdotal rather than “formal” with exact details of dates and incidents. However, the frequency of the views expressed paint a clear picture of the nature of the problems experienced with betting offices in Deptford High Street.

15. The evidence of the Police is also instructive. Both the Sergeant for the New
Cross Safer Neighbourhood Team and the Licensing Officer oppose the proposal. The position ‘on the ground’ is confirmed by the Police in terms of complaints about existing premises and of harassment, alarm and distress caused to the public by beggars, drinkers and drug users. The Sergeant believes that another such venue would add to crime in the area.

16. The Licensing Officer has provided statistics of reported crime for betting
offices across the Borough and in Deptford High Street. There were 18 offences locally between March 2010 and March 2011. Of these, 12 involved criminal damage, theft or public order offences but details are scanty. Indeed, as the appellant company points out, these figures have little meaning because they provide no comparison with individual retail uses in the High Street or other betting offices elsewhere or the High Street in general. It could be, for example, that they were linked to a single operator. A higher proportion of offences could also be explained by the requirement to report them all.

17. In addition, over the same period a total 102 calls were made to the existing 7
betting offices in the High Street which did not result in a recordable offence. Again the purpose of these calls is not apparent and there is no comparative data to assess whether this is a high or a low figure. A resident states that according to Police statistics crime is twice as high at the southern end of the High Street, where there are 5 betting offices, than at the northern end where there are 2. However, a range of other factors may affect the situation.

18. A Premises License under the Gambling Act of 2005 was issued in February
2011. This includes a number of conditions including the installation and maintenance of a fully operational CCTV system and the display of notices stating that drugs and drunkenness will not be tolerated on the premises. It has to be assumed that these will be adhered to. This provides a degree of confidence about the manner in which the establishment would be run although it cannot, of course, guarantee behaviours outside it.

19. In addition, the letter of 14 February 2011 to those who made representations comments that public nuisance is not a matter that can be taken into account. Furthermore, that the observations made by the Police about the link between the number of betting offices in the High Street and public nuisance was not a “relevant representation”. Licensing is a separate matter but, in any event, this correspondence suggests that it should not be treated as determinative.

20. Drawing things together the evidence shows that betting offices in the area are
associated with crime but whether this is abnormally serious has not been established. More persuasive are the accounts of people familiar with the area about disorder associated with existing premises. In general terms there is no reason to suppose that those visiting betting offices would be more likely to commit a crime or to behave in an anti-social manner than anyone else. However, for whatever reason, the evidence that premises in Deptford High Street act as a ‘magnet’ for miscreants is compelling.

21. Just because there may be problems in connection with other betting offices does not necessarily mean that these would be repeated in conjunction with Nos 93-95. The appellant company suggests that this could lead to a greater dispersal. However, this is a large unit and presumably it would not open unless the operator was satisfied that it would generate sufficient custom to make it profitable. If the appeal were dismissed then the current state of affairs would remain but, to my mind, an additional premises would simply add to problems and should not be supported.

22. Consequently the proposal would be likely to increase anti-social behaviour and
disturbance although the implications for crime are less certain. The appellant company is critical of the Council for referring to the potential for harm to be caused in this respect rather than expressing certainty. It seems to me that it is not possible to be categorical but that the weight of well-informed evidence suggests that this outcome is likely to materialise. Put another way, it would be foolish to ignore the convincing accounts given or to assume that they would not be repeated in association with the proposed betting office.

23. As a consequence the proposal would make the High Street a less safe place
for residents and other users of the town centre. In this way there would be a broad conflict with the intentions of criterion (d) of Policy STC4 of the Unitary Development Plan and also with the aims of PPS1. The same would not necessarily be true of every betting office but it is the conclusion in this case based on the evidence about existing operations in Deptford High Street. In making this finding limited weight has been given to the Portobello Road appeal decision quoted since full details have not been provided.

24. The proposal would not harm the vitality and viability of Deptford District
Centre since it would not lead to the loss of a retail unit and would comply with relevant development plan policies in this respect. However, it would be likely to give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance to local residents and users of the town centre. There is also a risk of an increase in crime. As a result use of the High Street would become less safe and pleasant.

25. PPS4 confirms the overarching objective of sustainable economic growth and
that such applications should be treated favourably. This theme is reiterated in the Ministerial Statement on ‘Planning for Growth’ of March 2011 as significant weight is attached to the need to secure economic growth and employment and also in the draft National Planning Policy Framework. The proposed betting office would occupy an empty unit and create jobs. However, there is no indication that this is the only viable use of the premises or of the employment that would be generated. Since the main aims of PPS4 also encompass safe environments these factors do not outweigh the harm identified.

26. The application sought to vary Condition (2) to enable all Class A2 uses to
occupy the unit. Apart from betting offices there is no evidence that the limitation to a building society only should continue. Hence the condition in its current form is no longer necessary or reasonable and should be replaced. Paragraph 87 of the Annex to Circular 11/95 The Use of Conditions in Planning Permissions indicates that conditions should not be imposed which restrict future changes of use which the Use Classes Order would otherwise allow save in exceptional circumstances. In this case I am satisfied that excluding a betting office is justified because the tests set out in the last sentence are met.

27. The appeal should therefore be allowed so that the range of acceptable
activities within Class A2 can be broadened in line with Government economic objectives. However, a condition should be imposed which precludes use as a betting office. The original permission contained a condition regarding a shop window which should be re-worded and re-imposed. As a fresh permission is issued to stand alongside the original it also makes sense to adjust the description of development to suit. So although a betting office use would be unacceptable the appeal should be allowed for the reasons given.

David Smith

Friday, April 15, 2011

George Wheelhouse 1772-1864

George Wheelhouse was born in Scarborough on 22 Aug 1772 the fourth and youngest recorded child of John Wheelhouse and Ann Graham who had married in the town on 15 Nov 1764. George was baptised in Scarborough on 4 Nov 1772.

Little is known of his first forty years, but by 1814 he was a distiller in Deptford, appearing in a list of creditors of bankrupt marine stores dealer Thomas Fleming that appeared in the London Gazette on 18 June 1814. Fleming's business had been in Broomfield Place (now Evelyn Street) but he had been committed to the Fleet prison.

In 1851, at the age of 78, he was described as a Distiller on the census residing at Deptford Bridge. George had never married and his household consisted merely of James Leask described as a Distiller's Clerk and house servant Maria Wells.

By the 1861 census he was described as a retired distiller, although he still lived at Deptford Bridge. His household now comprised of cook Mary Ann Platt and Housemaid Fanny Ellis. Next door neighbour William Holland was now the Distiller.

On 12 August 1863 the 90 year old George made a new will, but with no close family he made numerous charitable bequests. However, on the same day as he made the will he also made a codicil leaving four figure sums to each of his named executors and granting them discretion over what do with the residue of the estate.

This is the last will and testament of me, Geo. Wheelhouse, of Deptford-bridge, in the county of Kent. I direct my just debts, and funeral and testamentary expenses to be paid. I give, devise and bequeath all and every my property, estate and effects to my trustees and executors hereinafter named, upon trust to get in and convert such parts thereof as are not money into money, and I direct that their receipts shall be good discharges for the same, and thereout I give the following sums: To the British and Foreign Bible Society, £1000; to the Westminster Hospital, Middlesex Hospital, Charing Cross hospital, Royal Free Hospital, North London Hospital, St Mary's Hospital, Metropolitan Free Hospital, Seamen's Hospital Society, Royal Hospital for Incurables, Royal Infirmary for Children and Women [and three other charitable institutions. £500 each]: to the Great Northern Hospital [and four other charitable institutions. £300. each]. I give to the Royal National Life-boat Institution the sum of £250, for a life-boat for Bridlington, near Scarborough. I give to the Scarborough Dispensary £200, to be expended in annual sums of £10 each year until exhausted. I give to the poor of the parish of Deptford, to be expended in annual sums of £30 each year until exhausted, for bread and coals at Christmas, the sum of £500. I give the sum of £2500 to be expended by my trustees in erecting forty-three dwellings for the poor of Scarborough, and in paying the sum of £1 10,s. aunuully at Christmas to the. occupiers of such dwellings. I give the residue of my property (after payment of the foregoing amounts) upon trust for my executors, to hold the same for such uses and purposes as I may by codicil or deed direct or appoint, and in default thereof then for the same to be expended and appropriated within three years after my decease, in such way and manner and for such purposes as they, or the majority of them, may in their judgment or discretion agree upon. I devise all my estates vested in me as trustee or mortgagee to my executors, upon the trusts affecting the same. I appoint Alfred Rhodes Bristow (tho solicitor of the Admiralty), John Flesher, of, &c, Wm. Hodgson, of, &c, Wm. Roundtree, of, &c. aud Edward Welsh, of, &c, executors and trustees of this my will Witness my hand this 12th Aug. 1863.

This is a codicil to the will of me, George Wheelhouse. I give to each of the three first-named executors of my will, viz. Alfred Rhodes Bristow, John Flesher and William Hodgson, the sum of £5000 apiece; to my executor Edward Welsh the sum of £2000; and to my executor William Roundtree the sum of £1000, which said five several legacies I (five as tokens of my esteem; and I direct them severally to be retained by my said executors for their respective absolute benefit, free of legacy duty over and above and in addition to any sum or sums they, or any of them, may owe to me or my estate (and which sums I give and forgive to them accordingly), and I also give such live legacies, irrespective of any interest they my said executors may ultimately take in the residue of my estate. I give to Mr. Gay Shute, my surgeon. £600: I give to my friend Mrs. Verney (wife of Mr. George Verney), Mrs. Noble (wife of Mr. Samuel Noble), Mr. Simpson, of New-cross, Mr. Thompson, of Deptford, the sum of £500 apiece; I give to my friend Mr. George Hooper Hartnoll the sum of £600.; I give to Alfred Isaac Bristow (the. son of my executor) the sum of £500; I give to the charity of Christ's Hospital (otherwise called the "Blue-coat Schoolat Newgate-street, in the city of London. £500; I give to the Rev. Mr. Money, of Deptford, the sum of £100; I give to Mrs. Welsh (the wife of my executor) the sum of £200: I also give and devise all my freehold estate at or near Deptford-bridge, in part whereof I reside, to my executor Alfred Rhodes Bristow. for his absolute use; and so far and as to such freehold estate at Deptford-bridge only I alter and revoke my will, and in all other reapects I ratify and confirm my said will, and declare this a codicil part thereof. Dated this 12th day of Aug. 1863.

George Wheelhouse died on 28 Apr 1864 at his home at Deptford Bridge. On 5 July his five executors met and with the exception of the Revd Flesher voted to divide the residue of the estate amonst themselves.

Presumeably prompted by the Revd Flesher, George's only surviving cousin Elizabeth Buckle, nee Wheelhouse, and her husband Ambose commenced proceedings in the High Court of Chancery. The matter came before vice-chancellor Sir William Page Wood on Saturday 5 Nov 1864. Sir William was unimprssed by the executors behaviour pointing out that if George had intended that the executors should take the residue personally he could have simply declared that at once; George clearly contemplated some other act to be done. The vice-chancellor found for the Buckles and ordered the appointment of a receiver to administer the estate.

If George had made two or three large bequests then his name would probably be better remembered, but he spread his money around.

It would appear that the only institution that still bears George's name is the Wheelhouse Square Flats charity in his native Scarborough. The accounts lodged with the Charity Commission state that it was formed as The Almshouse Charity of George Wheelhouse, comprised in a declaration of trust dated 6 January, 1865. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution received government stock with a nominal value of £200 (which may have been worth the £250 stated in the will) but this seems to have gone into the Institution's central funds (in January 1865 a new £390 life boat at Bridlington was bought out of money raised by the Manchester RNLI branch).

William Holland who took over the distillery in the 1850s and other Holland family members formed Holland & Co, and at some point an inscription was made in the distillery's stonework stating "Established 1779. Holland and Co's Distillery and Bonded Store." The 1779 is possible, as a distillery, but not Holland's, as the previous use of the site as a sugar refinery may have ended in the mid 1770s when the owner James Salway went bankrupt. However other sources including archaeological excavations carried out in 2007 suggest that the distillery is early 19th Century, which means that distilling on the Deptford Bridge site could have been started by George. Holland & Co sold out to Seager Evans in 1922 and gin production continued. Seager Evans were taken over in 1956 and the distillery was closed. The names Holland and Seager will be remembered in the current development, but George Wheelhouse sadly will not be.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marine Tower

Following the Marine Tower double fire fatality at the beginning of February, the London Fire Brigade have issued an enforcement notice against Lewisham Homes detailing various failings.

The notice issued pursuant to Article 30 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 deatails the following failings:

  • Failure to review the fire risk assessment. (Article 9)
  • Failure in the effective management of the preventive and protective measures.(Article 11)
  • Failure to provide and/or maintain adequate and clearly indicated emergency routes and exits that lead to a place of safety. (Article 14)
  • Failure to establish an appropriate emergency plan. (Article 15)
  • Failure to ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment and devices are maintained in an efficient state, in effective working order and in good repair. (Article 17)
This is hardly the first time that Lewisham Homes have been the subject of such an order. In November last year a similar notice was issued in regard to Pitman House, Tanners Hill, Deptford.

Why do the London Fire Brigade appear to wait until after major incidents before checking fire safety in Lewisham tower blocks?